Maxwell Institute Podcast #137: BH Roberts, the Bible, and the Book of Mormon, with Matthew Bowman

  • Have you ever had anyone ask you “what is scripture?” For such a short question it has the possibility to open up into thousands of answers. For Latter-day Saints, it can be defined as “whatsoever [God’s representatives] shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost.” This definition is somewhat broader than many other Christian definitions of scripture, incorporating both written and spoken modes of inspiration. At the end of the day, though, scripture must be interpreted by the power of the Holy Ghost for edification.

    In the past several hundred years, though, some have looked to academic tools to prove the truth of religious texts. Professionals from fields like history, archaeology, and anthropology have sought to add detail from the empirical record to sacred texts. Those professionals are often women and men of faith. But what are the limits of using academic tools to “prove” religious truth? And how did that play out in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ during the first decades of the twentieth century? 

    Today, Dr. Matthew Bowman of Claremont Graduate University is going to discuss that with us today, focusing on his article entitled “Biblical Criticism, the Book of Mormon, and the Meanings of Civilization,” in the most recent issue of The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. We’ll include a copy of the article in our newsletter, which you can subscribe to at